History

Remember Alley Oop, The Cave Man? He’s a Texan.

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Alley Oop, the cave-man character created by Victor T. Hamlin in 1932, is a native Texan. Hamlin, at the time, was a cartographer for an oil company working in the Permian Basin. He had responsibility for mapping and making terrain sketches for well locations. Then steam shovels came in and leveled areas for the drilling rigs.

The area around present Iraan, Texas–pronounced ‘Ira-ann,’ incidentally, not ‘Iran’–was a gold mine of dinosaur fossils. In the days before salvage archaeology, the fossils were simply hauled away by the truckload. This gave Hamlin the idea for a comic strip.

This country, in the ’20s and ’30s, was dinosaur and cave man crazy. The silent version of Conan Doyle’s science-fiction novel The Lost World was a major box-office hit. One of the most popular cartoon characters of the day was “Gertie the Dinosaur.” Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ape-man, Tarzan, was finding hidden valleys of dinosaurs and cave men all over Africa in Burroughs’ novels. A fossil find near Piltdown, in Britain–later proved to be faked–raised the possibility of a ‘missing link’ between apes and humans.

Remember Alley Oop, The Cave Man? He’s a Texan
Image: icanbreakaway.blogspot.com

Hamlin created a ‘lost world’ of his own–the rival kingdoms of Moo and Lem (taken from the fictional ‘lost continents of Mu in the Pacific and Lemuria in the Indian Ocean), in a world populated by both dinosaurs and cave men. Dinny in Iraan. TE Photo Alley Oop, the muscular, beetle-browed, stone-ax packing hero, had a pet dinosaur named Dinny. Moo, the kingdom in which Oop lived, was ruled by King Guzzle, usually called Guz, who was in turn ruled by Queen Umpatiddle, usually called Umpa. Their adviser, the Grand Wizer, wore a headdress apparently made from a buzzard. The rival kingdom, Lem, with which Moo was often at war, was ruled by King Tunk. Oop’s closest male friend, Foozy, spoke entirely in rhyme.

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